DIY Biohackers Circumvent $8.3 Billion Insulin Delivery Industry

A community of DIYers is building insulin-regulating systems for a fraction of the price of the FDA-approved versions sold by Big Pharma.

DIY Insulin Delivery / Image: Mark Sommerfeld
DIY Insulin Delivery / Image: Mark Sommerfeld

A recent Bloomberg article discussed the trend of DIYers building insulin-regulating devices with a pump, a glucose monitor, a smartphone app, and a Bluetooth-enabled computer called RileyLink. They cost just $250 to build, and roughly 2,000 people worldwide have already done so. Information on how to build and maintain the devices, a form of informal tech support, is shared within the community via social media and email.

Although no life-threatening malfunctions have been reported, the DIY pancreas does come with risks. What’s perhaps most interesting is how big companies have embraced the DIY method. Apple and Eli Lilly have hired DIYers, and Medtronic’s latest FDA-approved device does most of the things the DIY version does, albeit for $7,000 before insurance.

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